NFL Week 12 Picks: Picking the Winners Against the Spread
Week 12 in the NFL gets underway very quickly thanks to everyones favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. What we are really thankful for is the NFL comes early giving us three games to digest on Thursday night.
My picks have been all over the place this season. When I first "dusted off my inner Bill Simmons" and wrote my first picks article, I told readers to look at my picks and go the other way. I said if they did that, they would be successful. Naturally, I went 9-3 that week against the spread.
I took a hiatus from writing the picks article, my picks stayed hot but then came back to earth with a 4-10 showing in Week 10. But the hiatus had to come to an end, and when I wrote the article last week, I discovered that I have a lot of fun writing this article and I will now make it a weekly shtick.
Last week I gave a different warning, take my advice at your own peril. My picks have been all over the place this season. Just when I think I've gotten a grasp of the NFL I come out with another awful week. When I warn everyone of how bad the picks are I have a great week.
Last week I rebounded and went 11-5 against the spread.
So this week I return with a Holiday Special Week 12 picks. As always proceed with caution.
Home teams will be listed in CAPS.
New England (-6.5) Over DETROIT
Thanksgiving Day football kicks off at 12:30 pm eastern Thursday, which presents a little bit of a challenge for this game.
The Patriots are coming off of their annual game against the Indianapolis Colts, one of their toughest and most physical games of the season. That game came down to the wire as the Pats were able to hold off a potential Peyton Manning comeback.
That game was played at 4:15 pm, and it ended just after 7 pm. The Patriots will then kick off with the Lions three days later at 12:30 pm. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is oh so caring about the safety of his players, putting in new rules against hard hits and trying to limit concussions, is giving the Patriots a grand total of 88 hours of rest after one of their toughest games of the season.
Making matter worse, look at the Pats past three games. Indy, at Pittsburgh, at Cleveland. While they rolled over Pittsburgh that was still a physical game, and they were steamrolled by Cleveland, one of the most physical teams in the league. Its not out of the question that the Patriots will be a little more then rusty for this game.
Except the Patriots are going up against the Detroit Lions. After 11 weeks we finally know who the Lions are. They are in fact, a glorified version of the Detroit Lions.
The Lions looked like they were going to finally put it together this year. They have a phenomenal play-making wide receiver, a second year quarterback who was the number one pick in the NFL draft a year ago, and a dynamic rookie running back. In fact the Lions looked like they were on their way to a win in week one before Matthew Stafford went down hurt, and then almost stole it again if not for a bad rule in the NFL rule book.
The Lions have been a frisky team at home, and played well on the road against the New York Giants. Matthew Stafford returned and it looked like they would beat the Jets. But Stafford has once again gone down, and when all is said and done the Lions still only have two wins.
While at times they looked dangerous and looked like this could be the season where they make a big leap, that is not the case. It is time to look beyond the Lions "friskiness," the Lions simply aren't that good and the rusty Pats will take this one.
New Orleans (-4) Over DALLAS
You would think that after 10 games for each team we would know how each team really is and these games would be easier to pick. But that isn't the case.
Dallas is now 2-0 under new head coach Jason Garrett, especially since Jason Garrett has started using his real play-book now that Wade Phillips is gone.
Not only that but Dez Bryant is emerging as one of the best receivers in football and perennial crappy quarterback Jon Kitna is closing in on joining the 20,000 career passing yards club.
But when you look past all that, Dallas caught the New York Giants off guard, and combine that with the fact that it now looks like the Giants have forgotten how to play football after a five game winning streak. The next victim for the Cowboys was the Detroit Lions, losers of their last 26 road games.
The Saints will not be looking past the Cowboys. They are aware that the Cowboys have become a tougher team in the last two weeks.
More importantly the Saints are starting to put it together after getting off to a slow start. The Saints were plagued by inconsistency this season but are now starting look more like the team that won the Super Bowl last season.
Drew Brees is coming off of his best game of the season Sunday when he threw for 382 yards and four touchdowns.
Furthermore the Saints are still pretty rested, having just had their bye week in Week 10, followed by blowing out the Seahawks at home in Week 11.
This Thanksgiving Jason Garrett will get his first loss as an NFL head coach.
Cincinnati (+9) Over NEW YORK JETS
The Jets just went to down to the wire with Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston in their last three games. If you want to go back five games, they lost to Green Bay, and went down to the wire with Denver too.
While there is no doubting the Jets offense can get it done late in games, there are doubts about that defense. Many times this season the Jets defense has fallen apart in the second half, allowing teams to come back and make games interesting.
The Jets have been slow starters all year, and so have the Bengals. The Bengals have dug themselves into holes against many top teams, only to come roaring back late, but often just falling short.
That is, until last week, when they got off to a flying start against Buffalo only to suffer an epic collapse.
But the fact is, eventually the Bengals put it together and score points. While the Jets offense has proven they can get it done when it matter late, they have also proven that they could make bad defenses look good. The Jets struggled against Houston's 32nd ranked pass defense, only taking advantage of how bad it is at the very end.
Furthermore, if your a Jets fan do you really want to win this game? Obviously you want to win every game, but the long term consequences could be harsh. When you have a big-time trash talking head coach you are going to create a lot of enemies, and the Jets have done just that this season.
After every narrow win over inferior opponents, the Jets haters come out and talk down the Jets, saying even though they're 8-2 they are struggling to beat bad teams. They will then point to the losses against Green Bay and Baltimore and say, when you play good teams, you lose.
In Week 13 the Jets face the Patriots in a game that could decide who will win the AFC East.
The losses to Baltimore and Green Bay both have the same thing in common. Baltimore was Week 1, Green Bay was the week after the Jets bye week. For both of these games the Jets were coming off highs and had extra time to prepare. Baltimore followed a run to the AFC Championship game, Green Bay came after a five game win streak.
With the extra time to prepare, the Jets coaches seemed like they were getting a little bit too fancy, breaking away from their usual simple game-plans. The results were the Jets losing both games, but only being out-scored 19-9 during those two games.
If the Jets beat the Bengals, they will have won four in a row and have 11 days to get ready for New England. The chances over-preparing will be sky-high.
I definitely want the Jets to win, and New England will have 11 days of rest also, but the Jets coaches should be skeptical about making crazy changes to the Jets game-plan.
WASHINGTON (-1.5) Over Minnesota
Here is what we know about both of these teams. The Redskins are really bad, and the Vikings are really bad.
The Redskins have been as inconsistent as you could be this season, but what people thought were bright spots on their schedule, Week 1 and 2 when they beat Dallas and lost in overtime to Houston, have now turned out to be games against other bad teams.
The Redskins just got destroyed at home last Monday night by Michael Vick and the Eagles. They managed to bounce back and beat the Titans in overtime this week, but oh yea, it took them until overtime to beat the Titans third string quarterback. And this is the same Titans team that lost to Tyler Thigpen and the Dolphins.
Meanwhile Minnesota is just a mess. Head coach Brad Childress has been fired, so how will the Vikings react? Are the Vikings really terrible, or will they turn around without Childress just like the Cowboys did without Phillips.
Despite the Vikings bad season, there was a bright spot, they could play at home. Going into last week Brett Favre was 12-1 as the Vikings starting quarterback at home.
But that has also come to an end, when he led the Vikings to just three points at home against the Packers this week. The Vikings are now just a terrible team who has quit on their coach all around.
Are the Redskins three points better then the Vikings? I don't know. But what I do know is that I don't trust the Vikings in any way shape or form.
Pittsburgh (-6.5) Over BUFFALO
Buffalo has played strong in many games this year, they have just been unable to pull out wins. But now Buffalo have won their last two in a row, including their largest come-back in 13 years over the Bengals.
Pittsburgh got off to a slow start after their bye week. Losing a two out of three stretch that included losses to New Orleans and New England, and a near collapse in their win over the Bengals.
But Pittsburgh has put it back together, demolishing a decent Oakland team this past Sunday. The weather in Buffalo has the potential to be awful, but that won't effect the Steelers too much.
Despite their struggles, Pittsburgh is still an elite team in the NFL, and they will be too much for the Bills this week.
HOUSTON (-2.5) Over Tennessee
You don't get much more unlucky then the Houston Texans. They just lost back-to-back games in the final 10 seconds. One on a very lucky hail mary in Jacksonville, the other when Mark Sanchez took the Jets down the field in the final minute.
As lucky as the Jets win was, it was still due in a large part to the fact that Houston's passing defense is god awful. In the final minute the Texans surrendered a big catch to Braylon Edwards who was running a simple "go" route. The Jets never intended to throw him the ball because they never imagined he'd be open.
The good news for Houston is that they could put points on the board. Most of their losses this season have been in shootouts, and could be attributed to their inability to stop other teams at the end. After being kept out of the endzone for most of the game on Sunday, the Texans showed how potent their offense could be, as they quickly erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Jets.
The best news the Texans could get is they now face the Titans, who don't throw the ball very often. Even better for Houston, the Titans will be starting third-string quarterback Rusty Smith, who will be making his first career start.
How serious can the Titans really be taken? They are coming off back-to-back losses against the Dolphins, who had to turn to third-stringer Tyler Thigpen, and the Redskins, who had just been demolished and buried alive against the Eagles six days before.
The Titans are 0-2 since acquiring Randy Moss, and he can only do so much on the field when you don't throw him the ball. They still have Chris Johnson, but that won't be enough this week.
Jacksonville (+7.5) Over NEW YORK GIANTS
Is Jacksonville that good? I don't think so. But I know I don't trust the Giants to cover a spread this high. Could they do it? Sure. Would I put my money on the line to say they will? Absolutely not.
Just two weeks ago I spoke about and wrote about how I would rather be a Jets fan then a Giants fan in the New York at the time, because the Jets were in a better position. People looked at me like I was crazy, both teams were 6-2 but the Jets had just struggled to beat the Broncos, got shut out by the Packers, and were taken to overtime by the Lions.
Meanwhile the Giants had won five in a row and were the hottest team in football.
My argument was simple. The Jets were not playing their best football, still working out some kinks, correcting mistakes and were looking to get better. They were far from their best and had the ability to get hot in December and take that to the playoffs.
The Giants on the other hand were very hot, but were they getting hot at the wrong time? Would they be able to keep their hot streak going?
We found out the answer to that one. No, they couldn't keep it going as the Giants have just lost their last two in a row. Furthermore, they looked terrible against the Cowboys, and made a tremendous amount of mistakes against the Eagles. Even worse, both were divisional games for the Giants.
The Giants are dealing with a lot of injuries. Play-making wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is out for three weeks, Steve Smith isn't back yet. Meanwhile Ahmad Bradshaw has fumbled the ball six times this season and overall quarterback Eli Manning has just not been playing that well as of late.
The Jaguars on the other hand have won two in a row. Yes, their defense isn't that great, and both wins have been right at the end, but the bottom line is the Jags are coming in hot, and the Giants aren't, and I wouldn't trust the Giants to win this by a touchdown.
Carolina (+11) Over CLEVELAND
Oh god. If you a gambler the only advice I could give you about this game is stay away from it at all costs.
Carolina is bad, Cleveland has looked pretty good since giving the team to Colt McCoy. They have lost their last two, but both have been close games, and they've beaten the Saints and the Patriots.
But could Cleveland really cover an 11 point spread? God that's preposterous, Carolina should cover that easily.
But Carolina is starting Brian St. Pierre! Even worse, Carolina has been the most unpredictable team against the spread ever under head coach John Fox. Its brutal, even when they were good, they would kill you. Pick Carolina, they wouldn't cover, pick against them, they covered, even in years they were awful.
How could you ever back Brian St. Pierre on the road when he's coached by John Fox? For this one I'm going to have to say, Carolina's pass defense really isn't that bad, 7th in the league actually.
Carolina's defense could keep them in this game. Despite a few pick-six's against the Ravens, Brian St. Pierre actually had some good moments last week.
Neither quarterback or team is that strong in this game, I'll take the points, and probably end up regretting it.
Tampa Bay (+7.5) Over BALTIMORE
My upset special this week where I go out on a limb. Do I expect Tampa Bay to go into Baltimore and beat the Ravens? No, but I would be far from shocked if they did.
The Buccaneers were just a cool story of a team led by a young quarterback and a young head coach that got off to a good start. But its Week 12 now, its no longer the start of the season and the Buccaneers just keep winning. Even more, lately they have started winning even more convincingly.
It's time to start taking the Bucs seriously. At 7-3 this team isn't going away, at least not yet. They are right on the heels of the Falcons and Saints in the NFC South, though they still have to take a trip to New Orleans and face the Falcons at home. But as of now, the Bucs keep winning, and if the Giants don't get their act together, the Bucs could end up stealing their playoff spot. imagine that, the NFC South sending three teams to the playoffs.
The Ravens have been very strong and are no doubt one of the elite teams in the NFL. But Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense has been inconsistent this season.
Statistically, this game is very even, as both teams are strong offensively and defensively. On paper, it looks like a Ravens blowout, but that's why the games aren't played on paper.
Josh Freeman is just winning football games, and he'll pull off the upset this week.
Philadelphia (-3.5) Over CHICAGO
Chicago is not an easy place for quarterbacks to play. Luckily for the Eagles, Michael Vick has a cannon for an arm. Even more lucky, he has that amazing ability to run.
Right now the Eagles are the hottest team in the NFL. They are beginning to dominate opponents and starting to scare AFC fans should their team run into the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
The Bears come into this one well rested, and coming off of back-to-back wins over the Vikings and Dolphins.
While they looked impressive in those wins, lets not forget they came against the miserable we quit on our coach Vikings, and the Dolphins who were starting Tyler Thigpen (a career 1-11 starter) at quarterback.
The Bears have gone through good periods this season, and bad ones. Even though they may be in a good period right now, they are no match for the Eagles.
ATLANTA (-2) Over Green Bay
Green Bay has finally put it together and is starting to look like the NFC juggernaut we thought they would be. Their offense is clicking and their defense is dominant.
Aaron Rodgers has been playing great as of late, as the Packers are finally getting past all the injuries that had been slowing down their season.
On the other side Atlanta is in top form, and the Falcons keep winning as they try to wrestle away the NFC South from the defending champion Saints.
Matt Ryan and Roddy White are becoming one of the most dangerous combo's in the NFL and have been nightmares for defenses to stop.
Over his career Matt Ryan has been a dominant 18-1 in the Georgia Dome. This week he should be making it 19-1.
OAKLAND (-3) Over Miami
Despite being pulled from last weeks game, Jason Campbell will remain the starting quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. Who he will face is a different question.
Both Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen participated in practice this week for the Dolphins, though Henne was limited. Henne had been the starter all season until he was benched in favor of Chad Pennington. Pennington got hurt and was replaced by Henne who hurt his knee in the same game.
While the Raiders may have gotten dismantled in Pittsburgh last week, they have been pretty darn good at home.
Miami has been pretty good on the road this season, losing only once, but a couple of things swing this one in Oakland's favor. The first is that Tyler Thigpen may start for the Dolphins and he has a 1-11 career record as a starter. The second is that Oakland is very tough place to play, but that has recently been offset by the Raiders being really bad.
But not this season. This season the Raiders are fairly mediocre, and even better at home. The "Black Hole" is re-emerging, and Oakland is not a fun place to go anymore.
Kansas City (-1.5) Over SEATTLE
A very difficult game to pick. Kansas City has been very hot at home, not so hot on the road. Seattle has been incredibly inconsistent all around but better at home.
Both teams started the season well, but have cooled off as of late. For Seattle, it may look like Pete Carroll's great start is finally coming to an end.
Both teams are in the race to win their really terrible divisions, only the Chiefs may be under a bit more pressure as the Chargers seem to be coming alive once again.
The Chiefs just got killed in their last away game, but that has been put behind them with a big home win. Despite being at home, Seattle has struggled as of late.
The Chiefs are a slightly better team and will squeak by in this one.
DENVER (-4) Over St. Louis
A tough call for this one. St. Louis is young and frisky, but they struggle on the road. Denver has been inconsistent, but has been good at home.
When you put the numbers together though Denver is 4th in the league in passing offense. They have thrown the ball all over the field all season long. St. Louis is not very good against the pass, not a recipe for the Rams.
Another problem faces the Rams. They haven't won a game at home. Now they travel to Invesco Field at Mile High, a place that is never nice for visitors, especially ones that don't visit there often.
The Broncos may only be 2-3 at home, but the Rams aren't getting their first road win in the mile high city.
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) Over San Diego
The Chargers are at the top of the league in both offense and defense but are only 5-5 because of turnovers and bad special teams.
But the Chargers have begun their typical late season charge and have started getting hot. They blew out the Broncos on Monday Night Football last week and have won three in a row. All of the Chargers losses this season have been by one score or less.
A few things swing this one in the Colts direction. One small thing is that the Chargers are awful on the road. They are just 1-4 in road games while the Colts are 4-0 at home.
Most importantly, you never pick against Peyton Manning when he's playing at night on national TV. And that is what we have this week, as this game will be on Sunday night football on NBC.
Manning lives for the national spotlight, and he will have a big game.
San Francisco (-1) Over ARIZONA
Really? This is the Monday Night Football game of the week. If NBC gets to flex its Sunday night games, its ridiculous that ESPN can't do the same with their Monday night games.
In fact, both teams should owe NFL fans an apology for having to watch these teams on Monday Night Football.
There really isn't much to say. The 49ers have been bad this year, the Cardinals have been awful. The Cardinals are led by an undrafted quarterback who has been terrible.
Both teams in this game are awful, the 49ers are just slightly less awful.
Seriously, are you even going to watch this game?